Praise? I think not.

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EL 266

"It startled and won the applause of the South, it interested and won the admiration of the North; and after a confused murmur of protest, it silenced if it did not convert the Negroes themselves" (Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, chapter 3, para 2)

Wow. I am so surprised to hear these words coming from W.E.B. Du Bois. The first parts of this chapter are nothing but praise for Booker T. Washington and his struggles to get the African American population onto its feet.

I guess I had always thought of Du Bois and Washington as enemies because of their difference in opinions. Du Bois was a well educated northern man, while Booker T. Washington came from a slave family in the south. Both men were free and making great advances for the African American community, but differed in opinions about how to educate their peers. Du Bois lobbied for a professional education and as his Wikipedia article suggests, Du Bois was the "father of Pan-Africanism."

This praise was short lived, as Du Bois later goes on to say:

Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,--
        First, political power,
        Second, insistence on civil rights,
        Third, higher education of Negro youth,--
and concentrate all their energies on industrial education, the accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South. This policy has been courageously and insistently advocated for over fifteen years, and has been triumphant for perhaps ten years. As a result of this tender of the palm-branch, what has been the return? In these years there have occurred:
  1. The disfranchisement of the Negro.
  2. The legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro.
  3. The steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher training of the Negro

 Wow..... What a transformation from his earlier praise. W.E.B. Du Bois took his argument full force by first complimenting Washington and then by breaking down his achievements.


1 Comments

Kayla Lesko said:

He was just pros and cons I guess.

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